Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Madge Monday

I need to keep my notebook around me again because all the delightful Madge nuggets have slipped my mind.
An amazing turn of events, one that shows how much more mature my kids are than I was at their age - or now, for that matter - is that they are truly enjoying the pjs they got for Christmas.
Madge is not enjoying Coco's insistence on playing his DS, though.
Oh, here we are: One thing that's an odd turn of events is that Madge is now a fan of Adam Sandler. We saw Bedtime Stories and as a result rented Billy Madison and Mr. Deeds. I guess it's like someone of my generation discovering Peter Sellers.
Okay, that made me laugh. No, no. Maybe Jerry Lewis. Or. Ah, Benny Hill.

Friday, December 26, 2008

post x-mas

All is well. Santa came, although how he found a moment between all the times the kids woke up is a mystery.
But we're all happy and resting. All of X-mas day, except for a brief foray to get Chinese food, was spent in pajamas.
I hope yours was as restful as ours.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Coco Tuesday

Accidents breed the best ideas sometimes.
Coco was at a birthday party last weekend and won some pin-the-something on the Optimus Prime and the host mom didn't have prizes for the actual game. Instead of simply making it a game for the fun of it, she gave Coco a dollar bill.
Guess what was one of the highlights of the party? A much bigger impact than a party trinket at a much lower cost. Literally more value for your dollar.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Madge Monday

A classic in our house that hasn't happened in a while, which is why I realize how strange it must seem:
Madge was helping Coco with his bath tonight, making sure he used soap and washed his hair. After the shampoo and conditioner, I heard her say this,
"Okay, and this is the Shiseido..."

No Ivory in our quaint little apartment.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

image from Life

should be here, but I don't see it
Oh, well, I'll get it another way. Ah. There it is.
Point is, I got to it through looking at this stuff. Do so, now.
Isn't it cool?
And that TimeLife picture archive is quite interesting and thought-provoking. I'll figure out something to do with it eventually. I followed the steps and Got "Chile 1960 Summer Olympics" as title and found the image by searching for "chile 1960." Apparently Eisenhower visited that year and they had an earthquake. And Ramen noodles.

'tis the season, finally

Christmas shopping is never what I think it should be.
I go to a store with something specific in mind, and then, when they don't have that, I feel bad because I feel like I've had to settle for something less.
But I ran into a friend today at Macy's, he was spritzing. That was fun.
I'm just glad I finally got to go, what with working, the kids' schedule, and the annoying illnesses.
The gifts don't feel done, but I do, so I may venture out again tomorrow after my dental appointment. I'm sure I'll be in the mood.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Coco Tuesday

Oh, they start so young, don't they.
Coco and I were walking home the other day and he asked me if pre-school was for bigger kids than kindergarten. I said No, it's before school.
Then he asked what school we were walking by and I said A middle school.
Are those older kids? he asked and I said Yes.
Then he said, out little baby said, "Is that when they get ... ?"
And he made a cupping gesture in front of his chest.
What the?
"Boobies?" I asked.
And he grinned. "Yes."
"Yes," I said.

When I related this to Julie, she said what you're all thinking.
"He's your son."
I have no idea what that means.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Madge Monday

We are playing a happy-go-lucky game of Pass the Illness in our house and Madge has decided to cheat. It was clearly Coco's turn after she started things off and handed them on to me while Julie was getting her own illness on when out of town. But Madge seems to have decided to show us all how it's done and took the illness back. An unheard-of, unprecedented move. Bold.

I just hope we can have a few regular days before the Christmas break.
At this point, slipping out to buy presents while the kids are in school is becoming exceedingly difficult.

Friday, December 12, 2008

typo of the day

The typo was found in a boring context, but tweaked, it could be a useful pun, as in:
Prince Rainier was raised in an abusive manor.

Oh, I forgot to warn you about the bad pun. My bad.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Shame

I went to a book signing in the neighborhood tonight.
Oh, my.
Because of the way my time is organized, though, and because the book signing didn't start until 7:30pm, I came away empty-handed. Well, that's not true, I came away with some bribery books, some unicorn thing and some Clone Wars deal.
And I came away with a slightly sinking feeling around the heart area because the author (John Hodgman) was making fun (lightly, of course) about the way kids dominate the lifestyle of our neighborhood. And since my kids' bedtime was the prime reason I couldn't stick around for the actual signing part of the book discussion and signing, I couldn't buy a book.
The store, in its wisdom, had removed all the copies from the floor for a more easy signing frenzy access. Or, conversely, for random shopping inaccess.
Maybe I'll just get a copy and forge his signature. Or stalk the neighborhood for Hodgman sightings. He should wear a bright red scarf like Paul Auster, to be more inconspicuously conspicuous.
The kids, incidentally, were great. They were reading in the back - Madge was reading to Coco, that is - with occasional forages to me to visit the bathroom or to tell me about the Obama books they found.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Coco Tuesday

Coco is tired of weepy Madge and it's hard for me not to giggle when he rolls his eyes and asks if she's crying again. But she fell asleep before eight and before Coco tonight, so tomorrow should be better. To cheer her up, though, he said, "Everybody who loves Madge, raise your hand." If the cat had been in the room, Coco would have raised the cat's paw, too. He's done it before.

In other Coco news, he's talking non-stop. And with my super-sore throat, I just can't keep up. We realized that I could write on dry-erase boards (which we have in the house), but Coco's reading is very selective. He sounds out the first letter and guesses the rest. So we gave up on that one fairly quickly.

Investments Gone South?

Now they can do so literally.
I read about it in the NYTimes and now I'm giving them a bit of free advertising here. Why not? Their plan is cutely creative.
The idea is this. Elite Island Resorts is taking the German saying "lieber nichts als gar nichts" to heart. (It means, "better nothing than nothing at all.") And, as a result, they are taking stocks as payment for rooms. The kicker is this: they're taking stocks at the rate they were trading on July 1, 2008 (up to $5,000 per room).
The trade is empty rooms for worthless stocks. Everyone wins.
But don't order room service. Who's to guarantee you don't get the food from July 1?

Monday, December 08, 2008

Madge Monday

Madge has been weepy lately, especially at bedtime. She says it's because Mommy's going out of town so close to Christmas. Sure, that's part of it, but there's more. At least tonight she admitted that there's more which she doesn't want to tell.
And I almost started giving suggestions but realized that could backfire too easily. As in, I'd be giving her way more things to cry about than she had ever really considered before.
"What is it, honey? Did your friends say something about how you dress?"
"Did you find out [BLANK] doesn't exist?"
"Did you realize you will die someday?"
Instead, I'll just wait and see what may be forthcoming.

reflexive actions

Not the kind you think about much, obviously.
But every once in a while an illness reminds you of them. Mine is swallowing. I never knew how often you - I should say "I" but I include all of us in this - swallow extra spittle that finds its way into your mouth - not "my mouth" because that odd mix of personal pronouns would get a little too intimate.
We thought it was strep but I don't have the stuffy sinus achiness and thickness that plays the countertenor to the difficulty to swallow. I went to the doctor and found out that it's essentially a really bad sore throat. Good, because I'm not contagious, but bad because I just feel like a big sissy now.
And that's what she said, too: "Pfffft. It's just a sore throat, you big sissy."
Well, those may not have been her exact words. I'm paraphrasing. What she said was something like "pharyngogobbledygook." But it's what I took away from the visit.

Friday, December 05, 2008

a blurb I'd like to see

"...as educational as de Sade's 120 Days in Sodom, but without the annoying preachiness!"
--USA Today

Thursday, December 04, 2008


I had this headline in my inbox: Landmark Strip Club Burns.
And for some reason I thought it was a kind of skin condition.

Of course, it's not.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008


Maybe I'm too stingy with our nighttime heating, but last night the cat crawled under the covers and curled around Julie's hot-water bottle.
Nah. It's not too cold.
He's a pussy.

relationship status

Facebook is careful about people's relations to one another. So, when I realized I could change my relationship status and finally did click on the box that said married and then filled in my wife's name, it zapped this message to Julie:
Philipp said on Facebook that you two are married. We need you to confirm that you are, in fact, married to Philipp.
To confirm this relationship request, follow the link below:...
I think the bit that made Julie laugh so much was the great timing of the ", in fact," which is quite good, I must say.
(This relationship request, by the way, was confirmed more quickly than the original proposal. It's amazing what twelve years of marriage can do.)
I'm just wondering, if I changed it to "single," would she would get an email about that as well?

And to all of you who have congratulated me on facebook, thanks. I'm registered at Amazon.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Coco Tuesday

Part of our wonderful Thanksgiving weekend included a trip to Macy’s Santaland. If you go on a Sunday morning, as we did, the lines are non-existent and the Santas are relaxed. (Incidentally, I typed this up in MSWord and its spell-check does not allow for the plural of Santa; they believe!) And, to continue that thread of thought, the elves were more informed this year. I think Coco wore his Omnitrix (MSWord has not heard of the Omnitrix) this year to test them, and when an elf commented on the “cool Ben Ten watch” he nodded approvingly. Last year’s elves didn’t know whereof he spoke when he mentioned Ben Ten and this really worried him.
Anyway, one of the greater Random Coco Inventions is that he just started chanting the word Santaland and it eventually morphed, via an extension of the final “a” into something resembling Robert Plant’s banshee yell in Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song.”
I am not kidding. He’s seen “School of Rock,” after all. So we’ve expanded it. Now we play it on the iPod and sing along.
So far we have:

Daddy: DiGUNG-dugga-DIgah, DiGUNG-dugga-DIgah…

Coco: Santalaaaaaaa-AAAND! Santalaaaaaaa-AAAND!

Daddy: He comes from the land of the ice and snow,
Where the elves make toys and the reindeer go.
Santa makes his rounds.
He flies his sleigh to new lands,
To hand out gifts, singing and crying:
Oh, children, I am coming!
Kiddies sleep, parents snore,
And in the morning they hear, “More! More! More!”

DiGUNG-dugga-DIgah, DiGUNG-dugga-DIgah…

Coco: Santalaaaaaa-AAAND! Santalaaaaaaa-AAAND!

Daddy: He comes from the land of the ice and snow,
Where the elves-

Coco: Daddy, can you stop that and we do the Santalaaaaaaa-AAAND part again?

The pardoned

I guess what I was trying to get at about the names is that they sound too Dickensian to be true, as if Marc Rich and Pincus Green would be followed by Sir Sydney Coinpurse, Whelan Dealings, Saint-John Pennypincher, James Gross, Franklin Netwirth, and Johnny Cash.

Catching Up

I'm trying to be a little more informed about what's going on, seeing as how I voted and all and figure I ought to be an example to the kids.
So, there's this Eric Holder guy who wants to be Attorney General. Or, to be more lawyerish: he has been asked to be the Attorney General and to the best of his knowledge, he did not decline.
And the sticky point in his nomination is his role in the pardon of Marc Rich.
Like most people (I'm guessing), all is know is: Marc Rich pardon = not cool. But why? pffff, uh, um...
The backstory is this (from the NYTimes): "In 1983, Marc Rich was indicted along with his partner, Pincus Green, and their companies on 65 counts of defrauding the I.R.S., mail fraud, tax evasion, racketeering, defrauding the Treasury and trading with the enemy." (Oil, Iran, hostages: the usual.) Or, as we like to specify in my family, "No, kids, he was indicted for 'getting caught' defrauding and racketeering. The lesson..."
Now, I just can't get over the cartoony names of these guys. Is he Richie's dad? And Pincus Green? Was Red-Whitus Blue taken?
But once I do get over the names, the dates are striking. Indicted in 1983. No wonder I didn't know about it, I was busy trying to get my elvin thief past some orcs.
And then, maybe because I'm reading Bleak House, I realize that Clinton was done being president - at least as far as the law and the history books were concerned, I'm not talking about in his mind - in Jan. 2001. That's a speedy legal process, no?
So maybe the subtext of the Holder hearings is that he's a crappy lawyer for letting the Marc Rich issue end so soon, before every law firm in the U.S. got a little taste of the legal fees involved.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Madge Monday

Poor Madge is still not feeling up to snuff.
Of course she can get up at 7am every morning during the Thanksgiving break, but this morning, for school...
She went. But I had to get her, early, from the nurse's office, since she is still easily exhausted. Madge, that is. The nurse may be, too, but she hasn't told me.
Part of Madge's problem is that she's very tired but can't get herself to go to bed before her little brother, who's on top of his game, making nonstop poop and fart and pee references.
Which bug a tired older sister.

half-full/half-empty business news

A NYTimes headline, "New York Pays Back $800 Million in Business Tax," might be rewritten as, "New York Businesses Get $800 Million Windfall."
They'd better report that income.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Traffic slows down

Here’s a story that affects a frightening percentage of my acquaintance. (Frightening in the sense that, if the percentage is more than zero, those people frighten me.) But I’m sure there are reasons for being shocked by the story.
Who, for example, hasn’t been a little late to a flight – I don’t know, maybe because you had to repack because you decide you wanted to take your workout shoes after all and they didn’t fit in the smaller suitcase – and thought: skip the limo, I’ll just take a helicopter?
See? And now, in New York, in Manhattan of all places, you’re stuck. You’ll simply miss your flight because the city’s only helicopter shuttle service can’t seem to comply with TSA rules. It seems to me that this is code for “what with all the upcoming changes in DC, we didn’t know whom* to bribe.”
*That is, if people who bribe others were to use the objective form of the pronoun.
The story ends with a quote about how the helipad service is “safe and efficient.” At first I thought this was a dig at the TSA, because anything that complies with their rules is obviously not. But then it turns out that they still run sightseeing tours.
And there actually a small percentage of my acquaintance – relation, even – who has done this.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

the moth's signoff

The Moth has a podcast. It's worth listening to, especially since it's free - though I encourage you to donate, of course.
In case you're wondering what they do: each week they select a story from their various Moth stages and events and share it with the broader podcast audience. They are over in about ten minutes, so they tend to go from funny to poignant and sometimes back again.
Occasionally, they involve heartbreak and/or physical injury.
And especially when they have serious physical injury or the death of a loved one, I urge them to reconsider their signoff:
We hope you have a story-worthy week.

Maybe I should write them rather than blindly posting it here.

Friday, November 28, 2008


Yet another innocent person dies, defending the American way of life.
Only in a story like this do you get a link from "Walmart" to "Hobbesian frenzy," all in one short paragraph.
But then again, is there a scale of death from senseless to sensible? Does this rate higher than "friendly fire" and lower than "drunk driving accident" and "choking on a pretzel"?
Just wondering.

Gobble Day

It was nice, but we didn't have anyone over this time, which means we have more leftovers than ever.
And the whole festivities were topped off with an Avatar marathon on our part which was sad because we are now done with this amazing series.
Now the kids will be back to watching shows I don't like, or endless reruns of Avatar, which I probably won't partake in.
Instead, I'll be reading my "Big Book of the Winter," Bleak House. It's amazing how Dickens is endlessly inventive and still manages to put me to sleep.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Business report

From some newspaper:
The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. reports that the number of “problem” banks rose sharply in the third quarter.
The report issued Tuesday shows the number of firms on the agency’s so-called problem list grew to 171 during the third quarter -- the highest number since 1995. There were 117 banks on the list in the second quarter.

I have a theory about these numbers that is awaiting its final proof on the next release of these numbers. If the next number - which is entirely feasible - is 711, then it will have been proven that the FDIC uses the time-tested Dyslexo-Rectal Fiscal Calculator.

Coco Tuesday

Similarly belated.
These past few mornings, getting ready for school went more quickly because there was one less lunch to make and one less bag to pack. And on Tuesday the miracle happened: Coco was the first in his class. And he loved it. And wants to continue the trend.
So this morning we left in good time and he kept asking if we were early. When I said Yes, he seemed upset. And then he asked what "early" means.
And I'm not writing this in order for you to commiserate about the difficulty of explaining temporal concepts.
No, I'm writing this to feel sorry for my son, who apparently has no event in his past on which to affix the label "Early."
Or maybe he's just been living in denial because he slipped out of his mommy's belly three and a half weeks before his due date.

Madge Monday

Behind schedule, because Madge Monday was a Madge sick day when I was set to help out at a store as a holiday help-weenie.
She's still home, sick. But this morning she topped herself by asking me to go to her teacher and get the class- and home-work she's missed.
Whence does she get the sense of responsibility?
We'll have to have her DNA tested.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

more financial news

GM has cancelled the lease on two jets (out how many, I don't know) after the flak (ooh, punny) they got in response to their trip to beg from the government.
AIG has quit the business of leasing out jets to others.
See, everything's related.

Friday, November 21, 2008

It's Probably Everywhere By Now

But here it is anyway,

Whoa! Apparently this is the post-turkey-pardon interview. If you don't want to watch, the gist is this:
Palin pardons turkey.
Palin gives interview - very cogently, of course.
In background of interview, guy unlifes* turkey.
* "Slaughter" is the word that seems to show up most often in articles relating to the matter, but look how humane the whole thing is. There's no blood until the camera stops rolling and Palin demonstrates what the word GEEK used to mean in the good old days.

Can't you just see what would have happened in a McCain/Palin administration right after they might have closed down Gitmo?

a more fun post than last night's

Coco, this morning:
I like science with Joe and music with Joe because I'm a good scientist and good, uh, musictist.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Tired Day

Last night we had a game night, which is always fun.
But it also meant that limericks got started late and with some wine as inspirational fuel instead of the usual coffee, so I was up until three.
Oh, well. I figured I'd drop off the kids and come home to take a nap, only to realize I had signed up to help out with the art teacher in Coco's class.
And then it was a half day followed by a playdate and parent-teacher conferences and TaeKwonDo.
But I'm okay now, thanks.

Oh, is there someone else in the room?

I liked this better as the Daily Show's "Moment of Zen" a couple of nights ago because it was shown without comment, but then again I guess the Daily Show's audience is more intelligent than that of CNN.

"Does I understand
why no one shakes my hand?
Oh, yes. - heh, heh - it's planned.
It shows I'm in command."
- The Leader of the Banned

Coco Tuesday

It's not really Tuesday. That's okay, though, because Coco isn't always aware of the day of the week.
Actually that's not fair. He is. He is learning a lot in school and is more aware of how time passes and how things work. All the stereotypcal little kid things are disappearing.
Good thing they have been replaced by endless fart sounds.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


From Nov. 14:
Sun [Microsystems] shares were trading at $4.11 at mid-day, putting the market value of the company at about $3 billion, a little less than what Sun has in cash on hand.

Is this only mindblowing to someone as naive as I (am) [I have to do that to check my grammar.]?
On the one hand it might mean that you could make a "little" profit if you were to get a loan (hahahaaa! flaw number one) and buy the operation, take the cash on hand and run off to, uh, well, to flaw number two.
On the other hand it points out that the problems here and now are beyond the merely monetary otherwise Sun's board could do just that: take all the cash on hand and give all the assets to Goodwill. Don't forget to get a receipt.

Along those lines I have an ad campaign for J&B (or whatever your preferred midprice brand might be): A Holiday Gift that is 40% recession-proof/Vol.

Thanksgiving Week

If you're not too busy (and not already living there) fly over to Germany in order to catch the network premiere of this awesome movie starring* my friend Florian Luehnsdorf. Nov. 26, 20:15, ARD.

* I'm not exactly sure, but it seems from the poster that they have a masterful costume and makeup department and he's doing some magical Eddie Murphy Norbit thing and playing all the parts. If not, he might just be one of the greyish guys in the background. But I think you'll see what kind of a pivotal role he plays. I think it's his seasickness that starts off a crucial plot twist.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Madge Monday

A sample of Madge's work as a photographer. Not bad, I say.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Playing Tourist

I've been playing tourist in NYC for part of the past two days because we have a visitor, and tomorrow we will try to take the train to Philadelphia to be true tourists. It'll just be a day trip so we're unsure about what to pack. iPods, of course. But other than that? I don't think we'll be making snacks to take.
But we're trying to meet some friends who live there. I'm excited. I've never been.
Let's hope the weather cooperates and that I'll be able to sneak in a cheesesteak even though I'm the only one in our group who wants one.
I have read, though about onions topped with cheezwhizz (or however you spell it). But I'm not sure they'll mix with any sort of travel. Or, for that manner, any sort of social life. Eek.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Picture Day

It's picture week at the kids' school, so on different days you see other kids in getups you wouldn't see the rest of the year. One kid in Coco's class wore a red bow tie yesterday.
Today was Madge's turn. It was also gym day and because of the confluence of fancy dress and gym class some kids were allowed to sit it out. Madge hadn't overdressed, but sat it out, too.
Crafty. She didn't actually say anything about her clothes, just sat down with the others.
Hee, hee.
I'm glad she can improvise on the fly like that, but I'm also glad she still feels that she can tell me about it.


I know. Very extravagant, going to the circus in the middle of the week. And trust me, I have a feeling we will all pay a bit of a price for it tomorrow - a bit was already paid tonight at the belated bedtime.
But it may have been worth it all just to see the joy on the face of the elderly nun sitting next to Madge.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Coco Tuesday

The BYOBama party at Coco's friend's house was fun.
I am pleased to report that I was able to make someone snort red wine out his mouth and nose onto a white, I repeat: white, coffee table. Heh, heh. I didn't even think the comment was that funny, which is probably why the delivery went over so well.
But enough about me; this is a Coco post.
Coco's friend lives in a big house and they have a banister which the kids are allowed to slide down. This blew Coco's mind and he spend a considerable amount of time climbing stairs and sliding down the handrail. So much so that he rubbed his chest sore and now has a little scab on it.
Logical minds might wonder about other damage. The other stuff was taken care of with a warm soak after we got home that night. He says it's all better.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Madge Monday

Madge has been under the weather over the weekend and today was no different. So she stayed home while Coco went to school. Not a bad day, really.
Mind you, she wasn't too sick to go to the movies this weekend, or to an improv theater thingie - at which she and Coco performed admirably when they got to be on stage. Just sick enough to stay home from school.
See? Sometimes I can be a nice dad.
What's a trifle more disconcerting is that she seems to have been having nightmares recently and won't tell us their content. How are we to help? Is she saying she can handle this on her own? I don't want her to handle this on her own, since it'll tell me something about her.
I want her to handle cleaning up after herself and getting her own food and drink on her own, since that holds no surprises for me, I think.

Friday, November 07, 2008

vegetable as adjective

Now that the election is over, spare time can be allocated in different ways again.
And once more I notice how I'm behind in glancing at poetry.
Yesterday I found one with lines that seem familiar. Andrew Marvell is the poet, though that sure seems like a magician's stage name, if you ask me.
Anyway, the lines are (from "To His Coy Mistress"):

Had we but world enough, and time
Now let us sport us while we may

Both seem worth remembering and dropping knowingly - that is, if you enjoy having people stuff you in gym lockers.
There are a few in between that are quite jolly, too, of which my favorite is (speaking of having but enough time and world):

My vegetable love should grow
Vaster than empires, and more slow.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008


Friends of ours invited us to a party to celebrate the outcome of the election and the party is entitled B.Y.O.B.ama. See? Punny.
I told Madge about it and she asked what byob stands for.
So I told her and she said, "Why? Didn't they want Obama to win?"
(This one may take a while so SOUND OUT what byob stands for, especially the last "b".)
I was confused about this and started explaining that people don't just drink alcohol when they're unhappy. In a roundabout way I thought she might have gotten that impression because I occasionally play and/or sing country songs around the apartment.
But then it finally surfaces that she didn't know the word "booze" and didn't relate it to the idea of alcohol.
She thought I had said "Boo's."

Tuesday, November 04, 2008


Oh boy.
And now, if I understand the message correctly, it's up to us to make something of ourselves.

we can.

Coco Tuesday

We went to vote this morning. Fun stuff. Lines. Cranky voting booth "helpers." But at least the crowd was cheerful.
Then we had a long day hanging out since school was closed. Coco was busy spelling whatever he could on his day off and assembling letters out of pens, marveling that a capital I turned on its side becomes and H.
Just wait till he figures out that they're adjacent in the alphabet. It'll blow his mind.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Madge Monday

Madge was extra tired and cranky today. It's amazing what a one-hour time change will do for little people's schedules. She, of course, wants the benefits on both ends. She wants to be able to stay up extra late and still get up at the same crack of dawn as before, in order to watch more morning cartoons.
And tomorrow we have the day off in order to fret all day long about the election. Part of her homework is to watch some of it on TV. We'll see how that goes.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Halloween Highlights

One of the best moments was when we were at a party and the kids were handing out candy and ran out. Coco went to his bucket to try to "sell" some more. (He called it selling. He has much to learn about capitalism.)
Today, though, he's not sharing a single morsel.

Another great moment was when we went by a house with some slightly tipsy treaters, one of whom was a lawyer who all of a sudden got obsessed with asking the kids about "any known peanut allergies."

Thursday, October 30, 2008


I just remembered where I came across it.
Benjamin Britten set it to music. It's a poem by Thomas Hardy. Here's the weird thing about Britten - to me, that is. I find the music so-so. Generally too loud and in your face and not light enough. But I find his choice of poetry (and writing and writers in general) exquisite.

So here you go:

Wagtail and Baby (A Satire)

A baby watched a ford, whereto
A wagtail came for drinking;
A blaring bull went wading through,
The wagtail showed no shrinking.

A stallion splashed his way across,
The birdie nearly sinking;
He gave his plumes a twitch and toss,
And held his own unblinking.

Next saw the baby round the spot
A mongrel slowly slinking;
The wagtail gazed, but faltered not
In dip and sip and prinking.

A perfect gentleman then neared;
The wagtail, in a winking,
With terror rose and disappeared;
The baby fell a-thinking.

a word

I don't even know where I ran across it, but it's a lovely little thing.
It looks like it shouldn't even be a real word, it's so dainty.
It reminds me of one of the nerdier things I've done in the past: think up something that sounds like an English word and then look it up to see if it exists.
This word, I tell you, I wouldn't have looked up, it seems so silly.
But here it is:


Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Coco Tuesday

I'm quite sure Coco has never seen Grand Wood's American Gothic, but for some reason his recent portraiture is heading in that direction.
That is, until he learned to make stars and now no surface is safe. Quite honestly, though, I much prefer the stars to all the teardrops he's been putting on his faces.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Just remembered

Julie pointed out that it's odd for someone to simultaneously be called an elitist and a socialist.
(Except, of course, that only elitists actually know what the term "socialism" refers to.)
What's even stranger is that the same people have as their ideal a sort of hybrid of the two terms, a

Madge Monday

This weekend, Madge watched some Food Network shows, which are much more pleasant to be in the room with than morning cartoons. And while cartoons make the kids want the things in the ads - wait, I need to restate that because Madge does not say she wants everything she sees an ad for - Food Network shows merely make the kids hungry. Actually, Coco totally tunes out.
Wait a second: are our two kids actually different people?
Anyway, we saw Nigella make a chocolate cake and Madge wanted to make it. So today we did. I'm not so sure about the recipe because it doesn't have the taste sensation which the food show's money shot had led us to believe. But it as fun and only moderately complicated. Maybe we'll look around for some recipes with a little more punch.
We had fun doing it but once again we had time management issues becuase Madge thinks we can bake and still do all the other things she wants to do in an afternoon, except, of course, what became clear in this exchange:

Madge: Daddy, can you write my teacher a note that I couldn't do the reading because I forgot to bring post-it notes?
[Theoretically, the reading homework entails taking post-it note notes - or is it just post-it notes?]
Me: Oh, well... Wait. I have post-it notes. How many do you need?
[trying to calmly keep the "nyah-nyah" tone out of my voice]
Madge: Never mind.
The old fox wins one. Score: Madge - 4,476,227; Daddy - 6.

Friday, October 24, 2008

The Writing on the Wall

Since Biblical references are often lost on me, I have occasion to look them up online*, which has the benefit of not just referring me to various Bible translations, but also to artistic interpretations. This is Belshazzar's Feast, by some Dutch guy with an R who was great with golden colors and light.

And not only do I now know what "the writing on the wall" refers to, but I also have an incling why almost all graffiti is illegible to me: it's Hebrew.

* Today's search was occasioned** by Wodehouse's Right Ho, Jeeves, in the context of which we get, "Oh, that, yes. I've oftn wodered how that gag was worked. With mirrors, I expect."

** And I'd never use "occasioned" if it weren't for Wodehouse. Highly recommendable, by the way (reading Wodehouse, that is; though using "occasioned" is, too).

Thursday, October 23, 2008


Hello, Sailor!

I can't help myself, I just love these pictures.

You're probably familiar with the guy on the right, Henry Paulson Jr. The far left is Neel Kashkari, the director of the bailout program, and the man in the middle is James Lambright, the chief investment officer for the bailout bill.

Now the prize question is: what do these men have in common?

That's right, a love for the flag.

And they look great in drag

(what they need for that gig

is a head fit for wigs).

more market analysis

My dad likes to explain the psychology of the marketplace with the “Schweinezyklus,” the pig cycle. Meat prices rise, and the production of pigs is raised to and past the point where consumption can keep up; therefore, meat prices fall, and the production of pigs is reduced to and past the point where there is too little meat; therefore, …
If I understand this current crisis correctly, though, we have to replace meat prices with “the price of loans” which is like saying that the pig cycle is based on the barter of ribs, cutlets, and sausages. Not only that, but the ribs, cutlets, and sausages are to come from the pigs that are about to be purchased.
And right now the government(s) is/are trying to figure out to whom they should give some pigs, which they, btw., don’t really own.
I think a solution is to be a vegetarian. But since we can’t seem to figure out what that means, it’s more likely we’ll be fasting.


Madge is in band now and she chose the drums. This is good news for our neighbors because the practice pads are nearly noiseless. But she has only two sticks, and they won't be enough for the four pairs of hands in this apartment.
We may have to go to GuitarCenter soon. Heh, heh. Neighbors, watch out.
This is for Julie:

addendum: it gets "really good" about 3 minutes and 30 seconds in.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Coco Tuesday

TaeKwonDo is good for us, I think. It's hard for me, though, because I know they are supposed to practice and yet I also know that part of the appeal of TKD (like school) is that it's not Daddy doing the teaching.
So far, the best thing I've found to do it to pretend I'm doing the exercises, too, incorrectly, and have the correct me. It's tricky, though, when they teach me the wrong way and I know it's wrong (because I do pay attention, thank you very much, even though I'd rather be reading). Oh, well.
And I randomly recite the creed in order to have him hear it in a calm way rather than shouted by twenty kids. Because we don't go to church the kids are only now learning how to mouth along with a group. Important life lessons, I'm sure.

Madge Monday

Oops. I'm behind again.
We hosted a little Obama phone calling party on Saturday. I wasn't supposed to be little, but our friends seemed to have more, uh, important things to do at the time. But two wonderful ladies from the neighborhood showed up. They wanted to do something but weren't quite ready to go to a battleground state in person, so they came for the phone calls. They were really sweet.
Which is why it was doubly troubling that a person one of them called - we had chosen numbers in Indiana - said something to the effect that he would never vote for a n-word.
We didn't hear this. Her facial reaction, though, showed it. Her verbal reaction was great, though. We did hear, "Well, you're going to have one as your next president."
But then we got to explain the n-word to Madge, who dealt with it very well. By "dealing with it very well" I mean that I'm quite sure she didn't understand all the weight the word carries, but she could tell that it was momentous in the situation and she didn't press it or pose any arguments.
She has heard the word before, I'm sure. At the very least when I mumbled through it while reading Tom Sawyer to her, but also from blasting car stereos and neighborhood kids, though they tend to say "son."
Coco was just disappointed that the party wasn't a real party with, you know, chatting people and presents. Madge was excited because she got to be the data entry person.

Thursday, October 16, 2008


Was that word on the McCain speechwriter's word-of-the-day calendar on October 13th?
It was by far the least Joe Plumber-y word in his arsenal and he shot it off so often that it might have, uh, backfired. Made me look it up. Apparently its base meaning is "to divorce" and the roots add up to "to un-shame". Well, well, well. Is that really what McCain did, concerning the "kill him" and "terroist" ejaculations of his mob?
It does seem like a word that is part of his ideological makeup, though. If there is a matter of shame, repudiate it and all will be made good. Otherwise, why keep going in a political career that is well into its third decade? First wife, Keating Five? I wash my hands and move on. And now W. That's really the repudiation that he's attempting. Good luck, "my friend."

a parenting word

It came up in conversation with a friend:


n., 1. the parental ability to get everything wrong; 2. the awesome power of parents to be the source and cause of everything that has gone (or will go) wrong.

Finally, the rest of the Taxi song

I went on a field trip with the Kindergarten class and very sneakily asked them to teach me the taxi song. Not only did it help pass the time on the walk back to school, but now I'm fully informed and can share. And then I can let it go. Though there's still that unaccounted-for non-rhyme, for which I'll give a suggestion. I bet you can't wait.

Oh, no, I think I lost my [mode of transportation which a child provides, such as "pogo stick"]
And usually that's bad.
Good thing I'm a city kid,
and I can hail a cab.

"Taxi! Taxi!" Riding in the back.*
Roll the window up. Roll the window down.
Put the money in the slot. "See you later! Thanks a lot!"
Sure beats walking crosstown.**

*In order to make it complete, and to match the ensuing slot/lot rhyme, I think it might at one time have been "back seat" for a Taxi/back seat rhyme. Earth-shaking, I know.

**Apart from the "good thing I'm a city kid," this "crosstown" is my favorite part of the song. It could be a contracted "across town," but since our blocks here are shaped like brand new, unsharpened pencils, the crosstown ones are the ones you dread walking, since that is not the eraser end. (The eraser end - the uptown/downtown direction - has the downside of congestion at the corners, which residents - oh, my, I get to say "we" - which we compensate for by jaywalking.)

It's also cute when songs include archaisms that kids can't know. One is the slot for money. (Thank you, whichever New York mayor wants to take credit for the improved safety of cabbies.) The other is the hand movement that accompanies the rolling of the windows. When we were in Germany, the kids were fascinated that they could roll the windows in my sister's car manually. This was their first exposure to such windows. I don't think the rest of Coco's class has been in my sister's car.

Okay. The song is now officially out of my head.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


I know it's silly, but it bugs me that McCain says "meeyuns" and "beeyuns."
Not to mention "emmeteyya."


I'm surprised that the moderator was able to ask about the running mates with a straight face. The question itself is liberal media bias, isn't it?
And then
did McCain refer to his running mate as
"breasts of fresh air"?
He corrected himself, but I'd love to hear the original again.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Finances with moi

The whole financial thing is just wackadoodle, of course. But it seems to come as such a surprise to everyone. It really is a lot like Andersen's "The Emperor's New Clothes," in which the climax isn't the townsperson pointing out that the emperor is naked, but in the emperor's realization that he MUST continue his promenade. Because, really, everyone knew that we were trading Nothing, just like everyone in the story really knew that the tailors were sewing Nothing.
And many people seem to be looking for someone to blame. Really, the one to blame would be the person who pointed out that the loans were worthless, because the emperor would have been just fine if nobody had pointed out his nakedness.
Oh, well.

The other story by which to explain this is "It's a Wonderful Life," the only real contact any true American has with the housing lending industry. "Look, I can't give you your money now. It's in his house and her house..." And even the bailout/injection seems to be a wishful-thinking version of the end of the movie where everyone brings in their cash. "I was saving this money in case I ever gets me a husband." But there, at least, you have a Mr. Potter to dislike. Instead it turns out that we're all Uncle Billy.
Again. Oh, well.

Coco Tuesday

We had taekwondo again today. Lots of shouting, lots of excitement. We finally asked what the word "taekwondo" means. I remembered some trivia thing about hand and foot and I added heel, since I didn't think the kids would appreciate hand-foot-mouth. Apparently, it's something like "the way of hand and foot." But, given all the militaristic shouting, hand-foot-mouth isn't too far off.
Coco is still digging it and now he has some creeds to memorize, which might be a little tough, but he's making up in enthusiasm what he lacks in memorization skills. In other words, I can hear the rhythms of the creeds but not the actual words.
Then, later tonight, he sang part of a song he learned in school today. So it's not a lack of memory but more of a superfluity of excitement that is going to slow him down on the creeds.
The song, by the way, is great. I don't think he knows the whole thing because there are some unaccounted for rhymes in his version, but it still rocks.

Wave for the taxi, get in the back.
Windows rolling up, windows rolling down.
"Thank you, see you later!"
Put the money in the slot.
Sure beats walking crosstown.

The rolled windows and the crosstown (only in New York) walk seem to go together, but the rest of the song is still vague. I think I'll ask the teacher for it.

Madge Monday

Poor Madge. She's been having trouble falling asleep. Something is making her cry and she can't seem to tell us or figure out what it is. It may be fear of nightmares, since she's getting a lot of monsters fed to her subconscious in this pre-halloween season. It may be anything, really. We'll see.
She got enough sleep last night and today is a taekwondo day, so at least physically she should be on schedule. We'll see what her brain comes up with. I switched our reading matter from 1001 Nights to Dahl's The BFG, because I'm a little tired of all the maidenheads being taken in the former. But The BFG begins with the abduction of a young girl with glasses who happens to be awake at the witching hour. Jeez.
It got friendlier after thirty pages or so and now we're good to go.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Syrup alert!

It's our anniversary this Sunday and tonight we're going out for dinner. Ooooh.
One of the best things among the seven hundred billion great things about Julie is that the more I hang out with her, the more I want to hang out with her (the negative flipside is that when she's been out of town it takes a while to back into a groove).
I guess you could say she's addictive.
So here's a song that reflects this. Unfortunately, I could only find it with these silly pictures accompanying it. They're pretty funny, but not really appropriate here. Also, ironically, the song often gets played with a really heavy-hitting swing, almost an R&B backbeat, but this version works best.
The words are these:

Each time I look at you is like the first time:
Each time you’re near me, the thrill is new.
And there is nothing that I wouldn’t do for
The rare delight of
the sight of
you, for

The more I see you, the more I want you.
Somehow this feeling just grows and grows.
With every sigh I become more mad about you,
More lost without you,
And so it goes…

Can you imagine how much I’ll love you,
The more I see you, as years go by?
I know the only one for me can only be you.
My arms won’t free you.
My heart won’t try.

I know the only one for me can only be you.
My arms won’t free you.
My heart won’t try.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008


Thanks to the large-scale fallout of the mortgage crisis, I'm doing some retrofitting in my knowledge. It turns out that knowing 17th-century voice-leading rules doesn't really help to understand the economic hoohah.
But then again, it explains it as well as anything. More so than twelve-tone techniques and set theory as applied to atonal pieces after 1945.
Anyway, enough of that. I'm catching up by means of the
Planet Money Podcast, thanks to which I can now not my head in the appropriate places when someone talks of fiscal rather than monetary policy. I highly recommend it. And I recomment getting all episodes and just letting it play and saturate your cranium. At first it's depressing and confusing. Then things come into focus and you can resign yourself to the fact that everything's a mess.
And, though my dad may be surprised to hear that I can acknowledge something like this, I still maintain that one of the main historical events during my lifetime (if not the formative one, then somehow most symbolic) was not the fall of the wall but the abolition of the Gold Standard.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Coco Tuesday

We started Tae Kwon Do today. Coco had tried it once before, a little more than a year ago, when all the shouting - think Karate Kid: "Yes, Sensei!" but less testosterone-driven - made him crumple and run to me.
Well, today the shouting didn't bother him so much. Madge was there, too, as was her best friend and a classmate of his and the whole thing went well. And then on the way home he couldn't stop talking about it and reenacting certain moves.
I'm okay. It's only his first lesson, so I can still dodge the kicks.
But I may have to take a similar class just to stay out of the hospital when he wants to practice at home.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Madge Monday

It doesn't happen often, but I surprised Madge today.
Here's what I did: I told her that I don't actually mind her watching TV. That is, after all, why we finally got one. (Between us, I think a knowledge of TV along with a basic knowledge of the Christian story - at least the part that gives us days off from work and school - is part of our cultural makeup.)
I told her what I do mind is that she tends to ask to watch the second she's the slightest bit bored, as well as the first thing on weekend (and some weekday) mornings and as soon as we get home from school. Scratch that. On the way home from school. And because she asks me so incessantly, my answers get increasingly cranky. I said that her homework is done (as it was) and we've had dinner, so of course she can watch some TV.
She was flabbergasted.
But only for a few seconds, after which she brought out a piece of paper, wrote down the days of the week and asked me to tell her what times would be good for TV watching.
Oh boy.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Oh my!

I have some Dinah Washington songs on my iPod, from a CD I recently got.
To those of you who don't know her, you might recognize her as the singer of "What a Difference a Day Makes."
Well, before she recorde jazz albums, she recorded blues and that is what popped up in the shuffle.
So imagine yourself walking down the street, hearing a bluesy intro with lead guitar riffing over a slow shuffle and then hearing the first line:

I’ve got a dentist who’s over seven feet tall.

"What the ...?" you say to yourself. Who cares and why and hunh? It being that kind of blues, the line comes again.

Yes, I’ve got a dentist who’s over seven feet tall.

"All right. So?" you think.

Long John they call him, and he answers every call.


Well I went to Long John’s office and told him the pain was killing.

All right. Okay.

Yes, I went to Long John’s office and told him the pain was killing.

Get on with it, already.

He told me not to worry, that my cavity just needed filling.

And this is when I cupped my hands over my ears to drown out passing trucks and busses and just stood by the side of a building, grinning. Enjoy the rest.

He said, “When I start drilling, I’ll have to give you Novocain.
Yes, when I start drilling, I’ll have to give you Novocain.
‘cause every woman just can’t stand the pain.”

He took out his trusty drill,
And he told me to open wide.
He said he wouldn’t hurt me,
But he’d feel my (w)hole(,) inside.
Long John, Long John, you’ve got that golden touch.
You thrill me when you drill me, and I need you very much.

When he got through, he said, “Baby, that will cost you ten.”
Yes, when he got through, he said, “That will cost you ten.
Six months from now, come back and see me again.”

Say, you’re supposed to see your dentist
About twice a year, that’s right.
But I think I feel it fobbin’ [throbbing (?)],
Guess I’ll go back there tonight.
Long John, Long John, don’t ever move away.
See, I hope I keep on aching, so I can see you every day.

In case you want to track down the song for yourself, it's called "Long John Blues."


I'm sure everyone's already saying everything that can and needs to be said about the topic, but still.
That Palin woman sure is compelling to look at and listen to, sort of like a fistfight outside a bar, but without the calming effect.*
And I think the Republicans really are trying to push that sexism envelope. She's just a taunt. Why else would she have those bad highlights, as if she had done them herself. Other than reaching out to the suburban (read: Midwestern) contituents, her head is basically saying, "Nyah, nyah, you can't comment on my bad hair or you'll be called sexist."
(On that note: Go on with your balding self, Biden.)

*Seriously, I know that far-fetched comparisons have been drawn between Obama and Hitler because they both attract(ed) large crowds/rallies, but I think that if any of the people in this November showdown have that odd maniac-ready-to-take-over-the-world vibe while still not letting you turn off the TV because, well, there's just something there that doesn't let you look away, it's her.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Do this, please, if you are so inclined

Especially if you are in Europe. I'm talking to you, Flo.
Go to this site and read the instructions.
Basically, you print a picture of Sarah Palin. (Who? you ask, and rightly so. Hopefully, soon, nobody special.) Then you put the printout in front of your face as you take a picture of yourself in front of a famous landmark and post it to the site.
I would like to see more images of the picture in compromising situations, but hey, that's just me and I don't think it'll get posted.
Anyway, have fun with it.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Advanced Guitar Techniques

I have discovered a great way to make sure your fingers dance efficiently up and down the neck of the guitar without any sliding or fudging about after placed in position:
merely slice the cushiony pad of one of them while cutting basil - though other herbs might work as well. (Try it at home and report back to me in the comments section. Experiment with fruit, too.)
Anyway, let me just say that I switched to some "creative" lyrics in "Esse seu Olhar" after switching from one inversion of an EMaj.7 to another.

The Bill

From the NYT:

“This bill has been packaged with a lot of very popular things to give it even more momentum,” said Senator Jeff Sessions, Republican of Alabama, an opponent of the measure that is expected to easily clear the 60-vote threshold in the Senate, providing some momentum for the House vote now set for Friday.

So our Bailout Bill bill might read something like: $695 billion, plus shipping and handling.
But we seem to get a gift with purchase.
Wait a second. Judging by what we're "buying," it's not a "Jenna 2024" T-Shirt and button, but in addition to someone's home-loan, we get a college-loan, too.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Coco Tuesday

Nothing particularly funny or charming, but we have new neighbors, right next door. Same floor. We share a balcony.
one of them is a five-year-old boy. (The other is his mom.)
So far he's a little shy, but he's already been over and the kids have been there and Coco is very excited about having a friend so close. As am I. This could be great.
Or very awkward.

But I'm aiming for great, which is why I'm taking my time about it and letting them settle in.

Speaking of great neighbors: Hey T-Bone, whenever you get around to it, go to www.playok.com and try to meet me in the gin rummy room. Better yet, go there to check it out and register, then let me know when you'll be there and we can play some virtual gin. Wouldn't that be fun?
The site is Polish, which means that the chatter is usually unintelligible, but what the hey.

Monday, September 29, 2008

More Madge, sort of

She has theater class in school now once a week. It is taught by an improv guy who invited the kids to a show this weekend. So we went, of course. Madge even got to be on stage. She did great, though she basically just giggled the whole time.
But the best moment was when a father and son were on stage. Their task was to watch the improvisers act out their lives and "comment" on it (influence the action) by "yays" and "nays" (indicated by a bell and horn, respectively).
When the actor who was playing the boy shouted out, "I like girls!" the dad rang a bell. But the boy honked the horn.


Madge Monday

Paul Newman, as you guys may know, passed away this weekend.
Since the kids haven't had much exposure to him other than as the voice of Doc in the movie Cars, Madge asked, "Are they still going to make the popcorn?"
Good question.
I think so.

Now the question is which of his movies they might be ready for? I think The Entertainer might be a good place to start.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

names, names, names

Yesterday, Coco had a playdate here with an African-American friend. The African-American bit doesn't really matter except to highlight my, uh, ignorance in the following.

The kid has a baby brother and an older sister, so I asked him the name of his older sister.
The answer I got was "uh-TOE-yuh." He's five, after all.
So when they came to pick him up, I was showing Latoya the apartment and the cat, to make her feel more at ease and not upset for having to come pick up her brother (some older sisters mind having to pick up a little brother from a playdate - no names).
Then, when they got into the elevator to leave the Mom said to the girl that she'd never been called Latoya before.
"What is your name?" I asked.
"Victoria," she said.
Then I asked the little brother to say his sisters name again.


Friday, September 26, 2008


From my anonymous mom, speaking of towel thwapping (I have two older sisters):

Oh, the memories of when you kids were small. Our rule was NEVER, NEVER above the waist, REMEMBER ????

I know that the concern was the proverbial eye-out-poking, but man, was this rule thought up by a woman in the company of women, or what?

Thursday, September 25, 2008

I'd post a picture, but I can't

The neighborhood we live in is great for many reasons, but especially for the quality of books that people discard in boxes in front of their homes for others to peruse.
Sure, there's a lot of textbooks, but you can pick up a Calvino along with Nora Ephron or an outmoded Dictionary of American Usage.
Or Homer's Odyssey.
I've bought a used copy of select works of Alexander Pope and can't decide if the seemingly random highlighting - the previous owner only paid a tiny bit of attention in class, apparently - is entertaining or hindering. So, not wanting to be surprised and annoyed by bad underlining - incidentally, the University of Chicago had the best highlighted books I've ever seen (not that I condone marking up library books, but, man was that stuff spot on) - I flipped through the pages.
And arrived at a bookmark of sorts that was about 3x5 inches and had a name and stats on the back. It was a baseball trading card of sorts, but the stats were all sexual/party girl. So, for instance, there was a 10-star rating system for various types of penetration alongside "backshots" and other licquor-holding abilities. Then I flipped it over and found that it was a photo of a girl kneeling on a bed in nothing but panties, but also with the picture cropped so that the face wasn't visible.

So now I walk really slowly whenever I pass the house where I found the book, to see if "Noel" actually lives there.

Mental Note: Remove all personal materials from books before discarding them on the street.

Mental Note 2: Especially this copy of the Odyssey, which I had to take home for Julie to see.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Coco Tuesday

Last night I perfomed one of special parent no-nos. I imparted wisdom.
Namely, on how to flick towels at people so that the towels snap at just the right moment. Don't use force. Timing and the flick of the wrist is everything. I showed Madge how to grip it and how not to get too close and how to wrap the towel for extra snap.
Really, I just wanted to flick someone with a towel and wanted an excuse.
And I did succeed in making Madge cry a few times, but she got over it because I told her that Mommy would freak out if she found out what I was teaching and that it's a fun secret.
Then we had one of those touch and go moments in which it turned out that Coco is quite a natural at the towel flicking thing and he, in contrast to some, does not cry when on the receiving end of a good thwing-ap.

And Coco's eye is fine.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


First Facebook takes away the fabulous Scrabulous, and now it has redesigned its look, taking away one of my favorite features, the Virtual Bookshelf.
It gave me a reason to actually finish books, just so I could keep track of them there, along with a short “review.” Now it’s gone, and I have to figure out another motivation to actually finish a book. It’s too bad that many of the books that I read don’t provide their own motivation, i.e., to find out what happens, but that lies in the nature of what I read. I can’t help but read books that are borderline homework. In other words, I heard about them somewhere and figured I ought to read them in order to be a well-rounded person. And because I didn’t come to the books on my own – whatever that might mean – it takes me a while to get into them. I know, though, that I need to give the books a fair shake, which means investing some time. The end result is that I have lots of books on my shelf with bookmarks in them.
I recently finished one, Labyrinth: Stoffe I-III, by Friedrich Duerrenmatt. I’m so proud. Ordinarily it wouldn’t be a problem because I love his writing and I whiz through his books. Or, rather, I love his thinking and sometimes make it through his writing fairly quickly.
This one, though, is a little tougher to get through because it is a memoir of sorts. And, being the writer he is, he acknowledges at the beginning that his finished writing presents a certain overview of his life: those parts of his life which he eventually figured out how to put into words. So his memoir is going to be an alternation of unfinished writing (or unpublished, rather, because they have beginning-middle-end yet lack something that lets him send it forth to survive on its own) and a biographical framework explaining why the various non-pieces have nagged at him all his life.

So why am I telling you this? Are you going to go out and read it for yourself? Unlikely. But it’s something to think about.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Madge Monday

I was able to have a rare treat today, some time alone with Madge. We hung out and played cards while Coco was on a playdate. I started to teach her gin rummy, but the two hands we played were unusual in being over quite quickly, so we'll have to try again. She might like it, I'm not sure.
I did enjoy the time, though. It was amazingly quiet. I guess Coco does add greatly to the noise level.
The result of the alone time was that homework got delayed. Finished, eventually, but kinda sorta late. At least she won't have to do it during recess.

Friday, September 19, 2008


After about two weeks of school, I finally realized that I could venture out of Brooklyn while the wee ones get their learn on.
Having read Schjeldahl's effusive piece on the Morandi exhibit at the Met, I decided to see for myself. So I did some shopping, packed myself a nice little lunch (smoked salmon with butter and lettuce on an Italian baguette and an apple, if you must know), and headed off to Manhattan.
I didn't pick up a map to the museum right away, so I wandered around for a while and smacked into the Turner exhibit. A nice surprise, though a bit of overkill since a little Turner goes a long way for me. (And there were so many early versions of the Houses of Parliament fire, I was starting to think he had burned the place down himself.) Also, I had loaded my iPod with 50s an 60s Miles Davis to get in the Morandi mood and it didn't fit with giant painted renditions of someone staring into a light source.
But I did pick up a map and wend my way to Morandi. I think I wasn't quite in the mood since I was more entertained by the people than by the paintings. I generally have a blast when the people take themselves more seriously than the paintings do. But in this case I wasn't so sure; something about the Morandi pieces seemed too precious.
But you're not here to read an art review (too much like a cross between di Chirico and Guston, both of whom I like better - in case you do want one):
When I picked up the kids from school, Coco's teacher told me about a little accident. Something about a finger getting pinched in a door.
And here's my problem with Coco accidents: I'm so freaked out about seizures that when it's not one - as today - I just say, "Oh, phew." But apparently it was bad enough for him to have to go to the nurse and succumb to the indignity of an icepack. (Only people who really know Coco know what trauma this must have been.) And he's been saying that he's not going back to school anymore because he'll just get his fingers slammed again.
Meanwhile, I'm just thinking, "Oh, phew. No seizure."
And at bedtime I realized we had a message on the answering machine: the school's nurse calling about an emergency.
The guilt.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

tough start

Today was a rough morning getting everyone off to school.
And Coco has this little brother habit of pointing out how well he's behaving when Madge isn't. Not that he says that she is behaving badly,

when she says that she won't put away her glass, for instance, he'll pick up his and take it to the kitchen and say, "I'm putting away my glass."
And the worst part is that I want to laugh at the transparency of the whole maneuver, but I don't want to acknowledge him at all at that point because I'm busy locking horns with her.
Putting glasses away isn't a good example, but it could be something as trivial as that.
This morning was a whole different bag.
We made it, but we had to tack a few extra minutes to the process in order to let her face be a bit less red (from crying).

der mitlaeufer - the, uh, goer-alonger

Oh. Conformist is the word I'm looking for.
I've gone ahead and joined the local food coop since I now have more time to try to cover the occasional shift.
The orientation was a test of commitment and a brainwashing session all in one and about ten minutes into the thing I found it very difficult to suppress my giggles. I managed, but the silliness of the feel-good pretentiousness was barely resistable.
Luckily everyone was sweet so it seemed unfair to laugh, which is why I didn't.
And the most endearing part of the presentation was that the guy couldn't decide where to put his glasses, and so they rotated from nose to bald pate to hands to table and back in an intricate dance. Two and a half hours later, I was signed up and ready to shop.
I feel so wholesome I might even attent a general meeting to decide what radio station to play during the mid-afternoon shift on alternating Thursdays.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Coco Tuesday

Coco is such a social animal.
He had a playdate this afternoon with his best friend. On the way home we walked with Madge's best friend and her little sister and Coco introduced them to each other. Properly.
"A, this is my friend B. ... B, this is my best friend A."
He didn't learn that from me, I don't think.

Oh, and then he made a face like a lion and went "Aaaaaaaaaaaaaa!"
So he is still five, in case you were wondering.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Madge Monday

I've thought about getting a tattoo for a while but could never decided what of. Well, I've decided and I got one this weekend. Madge was excited (Coco less so because of his fear of needles).
But she was so excited that she insisted I show it to her friend, whose mom was, let's say, less than impressed. So I had to tell Madge that not everyone digs tattoos and that I got it in a place you can't ordinarily see for that exact reason.
I think she just heard, "Blah, blah, adults are weird, blah."
And she keeps complaining of the weird smell I have because I'm supposed to take care of it with A+D ointment (a diaper rash cream).

Friday, September 12, 2008

Thursday, September 11, 2008


My song of the moment is by Johnny Adams, and it's called "Losing Battle."
Get it from iTunes or wherever. It's great.
I wrote down the lyrics in case you want them. Even if you don't, actually.
Doing so reminded me of one of my better moments as a creator of assignments for a college class in ethnomusicology, though I didn't work it out to its fullest back then.
The assignment is this: transcribe James Brown's vocals to "Cold Sweat," then write no less than 250 words justifying your spelling and use of punctuation.
Extra credit: Make your assignment at least 800 words, but you may not refer to ethnicity (or race) or class or gender or sexuality.

This is meant as an indirect excuse for the lack of punctuation and many line breaks. Listen to the song and you'll hear what I mean.

Losing Battle by Johnny Adams

You know it’s hard
To love another man’s girlfriend
You can’t see her when you want to
You got to see her when you can
You may be fighting
A losing battle
But you’ll have so much fun
Yes you will
Trying to win

-I thought it over
About what I should do
And I found out a one way love affair
Ain’t no good for two
You’ll only be fighting
Ooooh a losing battle baby
But you’ll have so much fun
So much fun
Trying to win

I watched the sun
When it rise
Until it fades away
I have nothing
But sleepless nights
And all I have is endless days

I axed my baby
Should I go away
Do you want me to leave
Or should I stay
She said you’ll be fighting
A losing battle
But you’ll have so much fun
Yes you will
Trying to win

I said
I watched the sun when it rise
Until until it fades away
I got nothing but sleepless nights
All I have is endless days
I axed baby I axed my baby
Should I go away
Do you want me to leave right now baby
Or do you want me
do you want me to stay
She said you’ll be fighting
Oh you’ll be fighting
You’ll be fighting
Fighting a losing battle baby
Fighting a losing battle